Okay, no serious blogging yet. However, in honor of my friend, "Tim the dentist," I offer up my favorite Seinfeld clip of all time. This is golden!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
I hope that those of you who read this blog and show an interest in my scattered, sometimes weird thoughts will be patient with me. While this blog has given me so much opportunity to share things that I deem important, it has also been a constant source of strife and tension. I have been censured by elders, received hateful emails, had many arguments with many people, hurt people's feelings, and in turn I have been misunderstood and even hurt. I am at a point in my life where I don't need more tension. I am overwhelmed with anxiety and sorrow. This is not a good time for me to jump into the fray again. I will have plenty time and opportunity to share my ideas in the future - when I am more sure of myself, and when my faith is stronger. Thank you so much for reading and showing an interest in my opinions. For now, my last word will be, "My name is Charles North, and I am a doubter."
Religiously speaking, I doubt a lot. My mind is riddled with uncertainty. Maybe it's just my personality type or my analytical training. I used to think that I was alone in my uncertainty, and that sharing my doubts would label me as weak, unfaithful, or even ignorant. I also thought that sharing my doubts would hurt the faith of those who looked to me for answers and certainty. I've discovered, however, that if you ask people in an honest moment, just about everyone has doubts. And I'm not just talking about passing moments of “I wonder if . . ?” I'm talking about deep and prolonged doubts. Recurring doubts that keep you up at night. Since Christians rarely speak of doubt we feel that expressing it is somehow unfit for proper (religious) company. So we stew on it and think we are alone - strange or odd or different, even to the point of deviance.
I've become convinced that sharing doubts is very therapeutic. Ironically, sharing doubts promotes deeper faith. My eyes were opened to this a few years ago when I was talking to a High School Senior (a very bright kid) about religion and the problem of evil in the world. I shared my doubts with this kid. A few days later I got an email from the kid, and he had this to say, “I have been struggling with church for some time, but talking to you opened my eyes. I have never heard a minister admit to doubting God. But hearing you made me realize that it is okay to doubt and that I fit in at church.”
I want to de-pathologize doubt. I want us to speak more openly about our doubts. I think it is healthy to know you are not alone. Here are specific things I have doubted or still doubt. What about you? Is this healthy?
I've doubted that God exists.
I've doubted that God really cares and works in the world.
I've doubted that prayers make any difference.
I've doubted that there is a heaven after death.
I’ve doubted that there is a literal place called “hell.”
I’ve doubted that the Bible is “inspired.”
I’ve doubted that the church is capable of forgiveness.
I’ve doubted love.
I’ve doubted the “stories” of the Old Testament.
I’ve doubted my own “goodness.”
I’ve doubted the value of “truth.”
Friday, November 07, 2008
One of my reasons I gave for voting for Obama (#15) was about abortion. Since then some people have said they don’t understand how abortion can be a non-issue for me. I appreciate the chance to clarify. And remember, this blog is about CLEAR THINKING. So, what is my own personal view? Abortion IS an issue for me – on a moral and religious level. Who the president is does not affect the issue at all. I am opposed to abortion. However, I reject both “pro life” and “pro choice” labels. I am anti abortion, but pro choice. I believe that women should CHOOSE to have the child. Scripture gives this choice in Deuteronomy 30: “I set before you today life and death; blessings and curses. Now choose life.” I think abortion is morally reprehensible! However, all polls indicate that the majority of Americans think abortion ought to remain legal - therefore I am in the minority on this issue. What am I going to do? Force my religious views on the rest of the country? Laws in the United States are not made on the basis of religious teaching or conviction. They are utilitarian because we are a secular nation.
From a LEGAL standpoint I think that Roe v Wade (1973) was a terrible decision - an abominable interpretation of the Constitution. Even liberal law professors (Lawrence Tribe of Harvard) admit this. Both liberals and conservatives need to understand (and I don’t think they do) that if Roe v Wade is overturned, it will not make abortion illegal. It will simply return the issue to the states. At that point all 50 state legislatures will determine their own abortion laws. This is the way federalism works. And, since most Americans want to see abortion kept legal, I don’t believe that any state will ban it outright. Overturning Roe v Wade will have virtually zero effect on abortion in America. Roe v Wade simply incorporated the 14th Amendment so that one state's allowing abortion applies to the other 49 states. Most Americans, including politicians, seem to not understand this.
If you oppose abortion on moral and religious grounds, then you need to get it together. The virulent rhetoric lends the impression of religious fanaticism, and no law in the United States will ever be made on the basis of religious fanaticism. Calling abortion “murder” further marginalizes religious conservatives. You may think abortion is “unjustified killing,” but it is not murder. “Murder” has a meaning. It is the intentional taking of a human life in a manner that is illegal. Abortion is not illegal. In order to have a seat at the table of rational debate, we should all use the language we’ve agreed on – English! I have looked into the distressed eyes of women contemplating this decision, and what they need is love, compassion, and hope – not anger, fanaticism, and labels. And they really don’t need any more laws.
This video from The Onion is very funny!! Even though I am an Obama supporter, I offer it up just to make you laugh. Enjoy.
Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are
Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Yesterday I boldly declared myself an Obama supporter. I do not believe in gloating however. The past few years have been hard. This election has been bitter, and hard-fought. Today I feel nothing but pride. I am proud to be an American! Since I was five years old, all I wanted was to be an American. Yesterday was the first time I voted for a president in my life. I have a great sense of calm and reassurance that if a nation so diverse and so divided can transfer power so peacefully, that nation can still be a shining city on a hill for all the world to look up to. Now we have a chance to leave the 20th century behind and let a new leader from a new generation take us across this bold new frontier to face the 21st century. Take hope. This country and the world will be okay. Please watch Obama's speech from Tuesday night.
My vote, like so many things I do, is complicated. I voted for Obama, but also against McCain. Here’s why:
1. When John McCain passed his campaign finance reform act a few years ago, I swore I would NEVER vote for him. I consider that law to be one of the most egregious assaults on the constitution ever mustered by Congress. Today I keep my promise to myself.
2. McCain is 72 years old, and it shows; Obama is 47. I think that McCain’s time has come and gone. He represents a bygone generation. It’s time for the Vietnam generation to enjoy retirement, and allow a new generation to lead the country and the world. I’m going with the younger guy.
3. Obama is VERY intelligent and articulate. That counts with me. He is a very quick study, and picks up on things fast. He gives complex and nuanced answers to serious issues and problems. McCain seems to give overly simple answers. Why? Because his right wing base sees the world in terms of “black and white.” We need a serious person to lead.
4. McCain is close enough to Bush in both economics and foreign policy that he represents a third Bush term. George Bush has been the worst president since the Civil War. A vote against McCain is, for me, a repudiation of the Bush administration.
5. In that vein, I have come to reject “trickle-down” economics. At the end of the Bush administration, the country is economically ruined. An obscene amount of wealth is concentrated in a tiny handful of people. These people (oil executives, Wall Street barons, war profiteers, etc.) have the audacity to pillage and pirate without any shame or consequences, while the rest of us are in dire straits.
6. I think the idea that Christian equals Republican is absurd. In the OT and the NT God is ALWAYS on the side of the poor, and against the rich. In this election, Obama’s policies overwhelmingly help the poor, while McCain has spent the past month creating fear in people earning over $250 000 a year that they will be taxed more. My Christian values find better expression in the Democratic Party because my values are deeper than the shallow and trite moralizing of Republican Christians.
7. Our medical system is BROKEN. People are dying and going bankrupt because of obscenely high medical expenses, while insurance companies are wallowing in profits. Republican judges consistently throw out lawsuits against these insurance companies. The sooner we have nationalized health care, and see every HMO go out of business, the better off we will be. Obama will bring us closer to that reality.
8. McCain spoke and acted erratic during all 3 debates. After the debates I had ZERO confidence in McCain.
9. McCain’s war hero status is to be applauded on a personal level, but it does not impress me in any way as a “qualification” to be president.
10. I cannot put Sarah Palin that close to the presidency. I admire her personally, but again, I don’t believe this woman is anywhere near qualified to be poised to take the reins of our government. Her sketchy credentials, her lack of knowledge, and her conservative worldview is not what America needs right now. I don’t want a folksy “hockey mom” running the country.
11. The "guilt by association" attacks on Obama have been so weak and pathetic, they have actually pushed me to support him. The worst has been the “socialist” label. George Bush has been the most socialist president in our history! We are well down the socialist path. Progressive tax rates, property taxes, and public education are all planks of the Communist Manifesto for crying out loud!
12. I refuse to give any Republican any further hold on power. They have squandered that chance. George Bush has presided over the biggest growth of the Federal government in our history. Enough!
13. I don’t respond to fear. My vote for Obama is a thumb in the eye of every conservative fear monger who wants us to look for terrorists behind every bush and under our beds.
14. I am voting AGAINST the war in Iraq. I agree with Obama’s position that this was an unjustified and unnecessary war from the beginning. McCain is a carbon copy of Bush with regards to the war. EVERY reason we were given to go to war is a lie, and we have no reason to still be there. We are wasting billions of dollars every month doing the very same thing that caused the British Empire to go bankrupt. I refuse to give my consent one day longer!
15. While I am pro-life, abortion is a non-issue for me in presidential elections. Even if (and it’s a big if) Roe v Wade is overturned, it just sends the issue back to the states. Abortion will NEVER be illegal in the U.S. Once you realize this, you won’t waste energy making your voting decisions on this one issue.
16. I just plain like Barak Obama. After his speech on Tuesday night, I have hope again!